The French composer Claude Ballif, the prominent figure of the French music after the World War II, was born in Paris in 1924. He died in Poissons (Haute Marne) in 2004.
This prolific and indefatigable creator is the inventor of the Metatonality: a fusion of diatonic scales with the chromatic one, which form an eleven-element metatonal scale. However, this aesthetic principle, this reaction on rigors of the Schönberg’s doctrine, is not always applied in his works, which reveal a huge hermetic, abstract poetry with some expressive dramatic, exclamatory accents.
He was lecturer at French Institutes in Hamburg and Berlin, professor of music pedagogy at the Conservatoire de Reims before he was appointed professor of composition at Conservatoire national supérieur de musique in Paris. He taught also in Canada.
Claude Ballif was “commander of the national order of merit” and “commander of arts and letters.”
Claude Ballif left to the posterity five sonatas and other piano works, compositions for two, three, four, five and seven instruments, an opera, three cantatas, four large orchestral works as well as some theoretic works including his doctorate dissertation on Metatonality.
He had three publishers in Paris. His first Sonata for piano was edited in Germany. His first String Quartet won the first prize at the International Composition Contest in Geneva. In 1986, the Festival Estival de Paris (Paris Summer Festival) presented mostly all his production, including his unique opera, to the very large cosmopolitan audience. All concerts were recorded for the Radio France.
The author of this article recorded Ballif’s Piano Sonata op.18 in Holland and played it on very well attended recital in Jakarta, Indonesia. Jakarta’s critic, Mr.Gus Kairupan, also professor at Columbia University in New York, stated: “Poetic and dramatic elements formed the idea of Claude Ballif’s Sonata op. 18 which emphasized the contrasts of the mandatory three -part -sonata rather than adhering to the structure of the elements. Freedom marked the arrangement of building blocks, freedom certainly, but not in a haphazard manner, not liberty to exploit, but liberty to create.”
Contribution by Jean-François Grancher <grancherpianoonvol.net>.